Friday, December 7, 2012

Mama Got her Sparkle Back

I have never been a play-it-safe kind of a gal.

When I was young I liked bad boys, loud music and driving fast. I pushed the envelope. I debated with teachers. I orchestrated complex pranks. I was a feminist at 10. I took Billie Jean King's victory over Bobby Riggs as a personal achievement, even though I didn't play tennis.

I wanted to protest, to march, to rebel, but during the '80's at my college, few others were into that. We railed against investments in apartheid South Africa (and won - the university divested) but then asked ourselves, "What next?"

I routinely threw caution to the wind. I drank too much, danced until my legs ached, snuck into the stables at night and rode horses bareback. I was a passionate smoker and a brazen flirt. I went to bars in bad neighborhoods and went home with the new friends I met there.

Right out of college, I went to work for Procter & Gamble as a sales rep. In Oklahoma. Selling Crisco and peanut butter and cake mixes and Pringles. What was I thinking?

My first apartment was a studio just a few blocks from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa. I didn't know about Oral Roberts; had never heard of it. It was September and hot. I strolled out to the pool in my bikini with my Bartles & James and Benson & Hedges, sat down next to group of young women and said hello. En masse, they stood up and walked away. That's how I found out about Oral Roberts University.

"C'est la vie" was my motto; I didn't let it get me down. I found clubs that blared Talking Heads until 2 in the morning, even in Tulsa.

I was a natural at sales, but I chafed at P&G's dress code and form-over-substance policies and in short order headed off to law school.

Nobody really enjoys law school, but I loved it. I loved the heated debates and political discussions. I loved talking about big issues and, well, partying with like-minded new friends. I loved using my brain and being free to speak my mind. I graduated with a load of student loans and no job, but a heart full of possibilities.

We all have to grow up some time and I did, too. I settled down, got married and had kids. I practiced law in firms and on my own. I loved my husband and adored my girls. There were times when the routine, though I loved my life, seemed a little stifling. I couldn't complain; I chose my life and I am so very privileged to have been able to do so. And yet I began to feel like a smaller, rather pastel version of myself. I thought that was just what happens. My inspirational well was drying up. Not much seemed exciting any more. I wondered what to do next.

And then my posse called: "Let's get out of town!" "Let's meet in Chicago!" "I'll drive!"

We road-tripped like the old days. Met in a hotel and gabbed, sipped wine and went out to eat. We walked everywhere. We window-shopped, acted crazy and sang karaoke. We danced and giggled. I remembered who I am inside and felt loved by women who "get" me. I don't have to settle for pastel. I can be my bold, brazen self.  I was positively effervescent.

And so, for my birthday, I did something I have wanted to do for the longest time. I went to a tattoo shop. I was a little nervous. The guys who ran the joint, covered in body art and multiple piercings, were incredibly kind. They didn't make me feel like a middle-aged suburban mom, slightly out of her comfort zone.

I got my nose pierced, but even better than that: I got my sparkle back.


  1. I love that you repelled the Oral Roberts crowd.

    And I love your sparkle.

  2. Reading of you in your youth, I am left feeling we'd have clicked--not so much because I liked to push against people or protest (too much work for a girl who likes to sleep in), but more because I loved to dance and connect and smoke around religious types. And I'm in agreement that a pierced nose does, indeed, reconcile the you of your youth with the you of your now.

    You know what post I'd like to read next? The story of what law did to that zingy girl. I'd like to read more about that gap between feeling "pastel" and your friends calling you to go to Chicago.

  3. I'm so glad you didn't pierce your nipple.

    Happy Birthday!
    Pastel..vibrant...bored..or are always a gift to me.

    now, send me your number, and let's go out and dance on some tables...